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Kedwell keen to get promoted
Kedwell keen to get promoted

Kent legend and striker Danny Kedwell has signed for Southern East Counties Football League side Hollands & Blair, and joins to “get them promoted”.

Kedwell, 37, signed for his new club on Thursday ahead of the new season, and we spoke to him exclusively about the move.

“I know Paul Piggott [co-chairman]” said Kedwell. “I always used to see him, and I grew up knowing him. I told him I would have one year for him one day, and he has always held me to it! When he rang me, I thought ‘you know what, I can walk it from my house’.

“I have watched them a couple of times, last year in the evenings I used to go there and watch, and it seems like he wants well for the club. He tries to do everything properly and it is something I really wanted to do – help a local club. I had Gillingham where I managed to win a league, so a small club like Hollands and Blair, I wanted to go and help them really.

“People say I must be on money, it is not about the money for me. I have made my money in football – I want to go out and enjoy myself. I know a lot of the boys and there is no pressure on me anymore – saying that, I have put it on myself because I want to get them promoted.

“I go to clubs to win things – I am not just there to make the numbers up and play. I am not that sort of player, everyone knows. I want to push them on and have the best season they have had.

“I want to be part of that, and being a local lad there is nothing better, helping a club like that.

“I would love to get them promoted. We would not be in football if we did not want to win the league. That is what they want – they have got a good squad there, a good team, and they look decent; better than I thought to be honest!

“I have not played this low since I was 16 – I haven’t played this sort of level and I’ve not seen it apart from watching a couple of games. When I trained with them though, I realised they are decent, and they are all good lads.”

Kedwell, who has played for the likes of Chatham Town, Tonbridge Angels, Lordswood, Maidstone United, Welling United and Ebbsfleet United in the past, had been playing for National League South side Havant & Waterlooville, but departed after one season at the club following the expiration of his contract.

Kent born and bred, it was always the travelling that was the issue for Kedwell.

“It has been the travelling” he said. “A lot of long hours on the road and, where I run the academy at Ebbsfleet, I could not concentrate on that.

“Coming towards the end of my career – I am 37 now – I need to concentrate on that a bit more and put some more time into it. So, I needed to play part time.

“It was a tough one for me. I got myself really fit, I was excited, and then in the first pre-season game I went in for a 50/50 and done my MCL. I was out until October, did not play and it took me some time to get back fit. It was exciting and then suddenly that happened.

“I worked so hard to get fit. I got back into it, scored 12 goals in 25-odd games, which is a good turnout, and I was getting back to my peak fitness, then obviously COVID jumped in. So I did not really get to settle in properly – it was very stop start.

“Then we had the play-offs and the disappointment with that. To summarise, there were good times and bad times. I did not get to get going and start the season or finish it off – it was frustrating.”

In the semi-finals of the National League South playoffs, Kedwell and Havant lost 2-1 to Kent side Dartford. He left following the game, and had to think hard about what he wanted to do next.

“I was never ready to finish” he insisted. “The day I know I am ready to finish is when I know myself I am not ready to do it anymore. I am miles away from that.

“In October to February I was scoring in the Conference South – I did not find it hard and I was not struggling fitness wise. Everyone says I look overweight, but I can move – it is weird, and I do not know how I do it!

“I had loads of phone calls, but it had to be right for me and had to be right for my future in business. I am building a training ground in Ebbsfleet, a training facility, and I am going to have to be there every day. So, I wanted to be close.

“There were a few London teams and stuff, but I needed to be in and around Gillingham really.”

Kedwell will be hoping for a positive start with his new team when he gets his pre-season campaign underway this weekend; Hollands & Blair host Rusthall on Saturday in their first home game of the summer – their third overall.

Picture supplied by Hollands & Blair FC.